Unlike hard skills that are learned, soft skills are similar to emotions or insights that allow people to “read” others.
[The Balance Careers]
Things You May Never Have Thought About
Your coding skills and technical knowledge are at a high level, so it is not surprising that you are thinking about becoming a freelance developer.
You have already built a few websites and you can see yourself doing this for a living.
Have you considered your other essential nontechnical skills and experience?
You ask, “like what”?
As a Free Lance Web Developer, you are your own:
- Project Manager
- Complaint Department
- Public Relations Department
- Marketing and Sales Representative
In addition, since you are your own employer, you have to provide your own worker benefits :
- Health Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Retirement (401K)
- Life Insurance
Declaring your legal business structure
This is an area most sole entrepreneurs never thought about and is very important, because it affects personal and business liabilities and how you file your taxes.
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
I am not an authority on these matters so you need to do some research or seek professional advice on your business structure. I just wanted to bring these concerns to your attention.
Possibe deal breakers
As a freelancer, you are kind of a jack of all trades.
Here is a list of important considerations to help you come to a decision. If you have extreme fear or phobia of any of these items, maybe going solo is not for you.
For some, working for a business, company or agency would be best suited for you. All you want is to release your skills and talents in designing, building, or developing websites. This fires your passion, while the non-technical affairs quickly extinguish that fire.
1.Dealing with difficult clients
You cannot avoid meeting stressful clients who will stretch your patience.
They absorb your valuable time, energy, and make unreasonable demands.
You probably read about these abusive clients, and I guarantee, you will meet them.
2.Have to be aggressive in finding work
You launched an awesome website displaying your skills, registered your business on Yelps and Angie’s List, and even signed up on a few freelancer bulletin boards. But so have hundreds of other freelance designers and developers in your city or locality. In other words, there will be competition for work and it will take lot’s of blood, sweat, and tears to garner some of the work. You cannot expect to sit back and wait for calls or emails wanting to hire you.
- Go to meetups, community events, rallies to meet people and let them know you build websites
- Post your ad on free bulletin boards outside of stores
- If you have children involved in sports, go and meet other parents, coaches, officials. The subject will always come up, “what do you do for a living”
- Do a search of websites in your area, you will find that many are not mobile ready, have no SSL certificate, use outdated technology, or are slow loading. Send an email explaining that you specialize in helping small business owners update their website and how their site could be penalized by Google. The majority will not respond, some will reply with a no thank you, and finally one or two will want to know more.
3.Ineligible for Unemployment
An incentive to find clients?
One of the key advantages of going freelance is that you can plan your own hours and schedules. So when your work for the day is done, you can shut down your computer and enjoy the rest of the day and evening.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Yes, technically your business is now closed for the day, but that is not going to stop clients from calling you.
- Server down: If the hosting server goes offline, your clients will call you. All they know is that their website is not available and they want to know what you are doing about it.
- Client screws up: Installs a bad plugin and breaks the site or inadvertently deletes something. Even if it’s not your fault, they will call you to restore their website, and they want it done now.
- Add new image or page content: Most clients will email you with the new content to upload at your convenience. But, there are those you will call you at the most inappropriate time and say they sent you an image, please upload to the website now, very important.
5.On Vacation: You had informed all your clients that you will be out of town traveling so will not be available during that time. You didn’t bring your laptop on purpose, because you don’t plan on doing any work during this vacation time.
But, do you think this will stop anyone from bothering you?
Won’t happen, depending on the number of clients you have, expect a text or call, saying they need help with their website. My response is always, “I only have my phone so it will have to wait till I get back.”
6.Contracts: As a freelancer, it is imperative that you be able to write a contract with your potential client to protect yourself.
This will reduce misunderstandings of what the customer expected, and what you will provide within the budget you both agreed upon. The first contract will be difficult, but once you have written a few, you can save them as a template to use again.
7.Getting Paid: You completed the project on time and your client is happy. As you wait for your payment, days turn into weeks, you never see any payment for your hard work. As a freelancer, you have to chase down the client and demand payment. Now, this is not the norm as most clients usually are prompt with their payments, but you will always find that 1% who will try and hold out as long as they can.
8.Overworked: Incoming projects can vary each month, some months may be lean, while others can be extremely busy. It’s those busy months that can be overwhelming. You thought the day was over, but you need to continue working to meet the deadlines that you promised. More work means more income, but what suffers is your sleep, family, and recreation time.
9.Lonesome: Basically, you are isolated at home, by yourself most of the time. If your personality requires been around people to be recharged, freelancing may not be for you. Yes, you can do some work at Starbucks or McDonalds (free wifi), but be cautious, having fun with friends can hinder your production time. Remember, you have client deadlines to meet.
10.Accountability: Being at home with flexible hours can be a detriment to some developers. Although you have no boss, you are still accountable to your clients.
The Trap: How easy to start playing a video game instead of finishing a project. You tell yourself, just 30 minutes, but you know that those 30 minutes can turn into 4 hours.
With no boss pushing, you have to be your own motivator. Seeking a successful freelance business should be enough motivation.
Test the Waters
Keep your current job, at least you have health insurance and a steady income. Start your freelancing business on the side, build websites for free (friends, family, church, little league team, etc.) to build your portfolio and garner referrals. Go all out promoting your business, see how business grows.
After time passes you can clearly see your possible potential with the number of clients you have accumulated. You can then come to a more reasonable decision on whether you can go full time or not. In other words, I don’t recommend quitting your job and start freelancing cold turkey.
If you are married, make sure your spouse is in full agreement with your decision, because it is a family affair and you need the full support of your partner to be successful.
Most successful freelancers have a diversified income flow. They receive supplement income from other sources which really helps during the lean months. You should start subsidizing your income too, here are some examples:
- Affiliate Links
- Designing logos and other graphics
- Teaching on line or in public
- Taking on photography and video projects
- Developing WordPress themes or plugins
- Build mobile apps
- Blog or write for publications
- Could be something totally unrelated to technology
Note: for some of these examples you need to have the necessary skills to charge for your services.
During those prosperous months, save some of the funds for those lean times. Don’t spend it all thinking this is how your income will be every month. You need to be a good steward of your resources.
Hopefully, most of you already understand the issues of starting your own freelance business. It can be a rewarding career path for those who can manage the Deal Breakers mentioned above.
Freelancing is not for everyone. Think about these issues, is it something you look forward to facing or is it something you dread?
Being your own CEO is a welcome challenge for many.
For others, building, creating, and designing websites and apps is your only passion and you can do without these side issues.
If freelancing is your burning desire, start building your brand now.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. [Colin Powell]
Excerpt from “Free-Lancing: Things you will never learn from a coding boot camp, coding school or college.”
An Ebook currently under construction.
Copyright @ 2018 Gerald Watanabe